Best of 2017 #05: Collectif SPATULE – “Le Vanneau Huppé” (Aloya Music)


This album crackles with an electricity that sounds like laughter, feels like euphoria and lights up the room with a jolt of beauty.  Le Vanneau Huppé is so full of life, it barely is able to contain itself.  Thankfully, Collectif SPATULE doesn’t even bother trying.  And in that same way a smile can transmit a wealth of information, so too does the music of this Nantes-based nonet.  The transcendent cheerfulness doesn’t obscure the whip-smart complexities at the heart of the music, of how a strong folkloric quality is the launching point for a series of melodic diversions, and how the accent on strings with harp, acoustic guitar, cello and double bass adds rich harmonic textures to those already set in place by saxophones and voices.  There’s so much going on at times, the music threatens to run away… but only to the point where it remains alluringly close, close enough to hurriedly catch up.  And the resulting spikes in intensity amplify what is already a highly-charged atmosphere.  This is an album with a magnetic personality, and one of the most fascinating recordings of 2017.

Music from Nantes, France.

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